Marlborough's water woes | The Jackal

15 Jun 2017

Marlborough's water woes

You would expect New Zealand, with its unparalleled natural resources, to have some of the best water supplied to households in the developed world.

However because of bad planning, a lack of development, lacklustre testing and infrastructure that is seldom properly maintained, our tap water throughout the country is often too contaminated to drink.

That appears to be the case in Seddon, where they’ve even managed to cultivate a new type of super algae.

Yesterday, the Marlborough Express reported:

New algae in Seddon stream survives without sunlight

The algae clouding Seddon's water has never before been found in the stream where the town sources its drinking supply.

Small, brown bits of algae have plagued the town's water for the past month, and Marlborough District Council scientists say the algae strain is a new discovery in the Black Birch Stream.

The outbreak is the first of its kind to affect the town's water, and has been clogging up pipes and blocking water filters.

This might seem like a small issue, but a new strain of algae that can survive where others previously haven’t has huge implications for New Zealand, especially if it migrates to other waterways.

The supply did not provide clean filtration for households, and a boil water notice was in place for the township.

The chemical composition of the stream had changed since the November earthquake, with a rise in alkalinity noted by council scientists.

"That change may be encouraging or making the water more favourable for this type of algae," Rooney said.

It remained to be seen how the algae strain was introduced to the stream, Rooney said.

The council maintained there were no health concerns with the algae.

There are no health concerns but there’s a boil water notice? This contradiction is ridiculous and just goes to show how inept most council’s are at dealing with polluted water supplies.

So what exactly is the Marlborough District Council doing to contain this new algae strain?

The algae was an inconvenience to people and the council was working to remove the organism from the water supply, Rooney said.

Machinery to deepen the stream's intake pipe would be at the site within the next fortnight. It was hoped this would prevent the algae from entering the water, Rooney said.

Hope isn’t a word I like to see when it comes to construction techniques to try and eradicate biological invasions.

The council really should be looking at other sources of contamination for this type of problem… because without knowing the exact cause, the Marlborough District Council cannot really hope to fully eradicate the new type of algae.

When pipi beds, mussel and ouster farms are having to close all over New Zealand because of similar water contamination and parasite problems, you would expect authorities to be doing something substantial to ensure these industries survived. Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the case.

Perhaps the National led government just doesn't give a damn about our waterways and the industries that rely on them?